Every week, I hope to bring you a quick Q&A with someone who covers the Ravens' opponent that week. This week, I chatted with reporter Mike Chappell, who covers the
MC: Arians was Pagano's choice to run the team in his absence. He had total faith that Bruce would carry on, and he did. But while he was away and receiving treatment for leukemia, Pagano kept in constant contact with Arians. He reviewed practice tape, sent text messages to players. Now that Pagano is back, it's back to normal. He's overseeing the entire operation and Arians is able to focus solely on the offense. As much as possible, Pagano has settled back into his old role.
MV: At what point did rookie quarterback
MC: It's been evident from the very start that Luck was the real deal. He stepped into the huddle for the first minicamp practice and took command of the huddle. He wasn't arrogant about it, but his quiet demeanor commanded the huddle nonetheless. Luck said he's made the most progress in what he called "situational awareness.'' That's basically just being exposed to various situations and learning from them. I get the impression he's recognizing things better, quicker and not being fooled as much.
MV: Drafting Luck first overall was the most notable change, but how surprised are you to see this team in the playoffs with so much roster turnover and so many young players playing big roles?
MC: It’s really been entertaining to watch. Only 17 of the 53 players on the active roster were with the team last year. It’s been a complete makeover. Also, there are 14 rookies and first-year players. Injuries have forced general manager Ryan Grigson and his staff to plug one hole after another. One of the biggest reasons for the dramatic turnaround has been the incredible contributions from the rookie draft class. That obviously starts with Luck, but running back
MV: Two of the many newcomers were former Ravens defenders
MC: Again, huge. Cory Redding was one of the first free-agent acquisitions by Grigson and Pagano. Zbikowski was one of the next pick-ups. Each was very familiar with the hybrid 3-4 Pagano brought with him from Baltimore. Redding has been one of the more vocal veteran leaders in the locker room and on the field.
MV: Looking at the matchup between the Ravens and Colts, where are the Colts most vulnerable against the Ravens and what do the Colts do well that they might be able to exploit against the Ravens, too?